Team Captain Mike Matney calls Nieves Rodriguez “The Mentalist” because he tries to evaluate and rationalize every situation. This character trait is valued by every member of the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Race Across America (RAAM) team, but Nieves tries to keep in all in perspective.
“No matter what life changing injuries we received from combat, we can still overcome any challenge associated with those injuries,” he says. “That’s my mission and my message to those who are willing to listen.”
Nieves certainly has worked hard to overcome his own challenges. He served four years in the Marine Corps and then joined the Army in 1997 – which included two tours in Iraq from 2003 through 2005. During the second tour, Nieves was thrown from a vehicle during a truck accident. His arm was severed at the elbow, and he suffered numerous broken bones and a severe head injury.
“I don’t see these things as challenges,” says Nieves. “I see them as opportunities.”
He calls RAAM the experience of a lifetime and says he expects it to be one of the hardest, life-changing events he’s ever been through. But he’s ready for it. During the 3,000-mile race across the country with his fellow WWP teammates, Nieves will continue to push himself and his team.
“Cycling has totally changed my life. It keeps me active, keeps me sane, and keeps my stress level down. As I look back on my two trips to the Olympic Training Center and racing on the Velodrome, I never pushed myself as hard as on the track. If I can inspire others to work through their challenges, to see life as an opportunity, and overcome every obstacle in their way, then I’ll be happy. We fight and survive and live to bring honor to those who sacrificed themselves in our place. Let’s fulfill this new mission of life together."
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